Epicor ERP Review

It's flexible enough to address most issues a discrete manufacturer would have


What is our primary use case?

I am currently a customer and have been in the past.  I have also provided consulting services for nearly a decade and have worked with many customers using Vantage/Vista 8, Epicor ERP 9.x, Epicor ERP 10.x, and Epicor Express.

How has it helped my organization?

The product is designed to work with discrete manufactures and it does this very well.   It will work with process manufacturing to some extent (if you can manage it as discrete units).  Epicor often sells the financial modules to Service companies. Some of the other operational modules are equally applicable to other service businesses.

The software is highly capable, but the improvements companies get from Epicor varies from organization to organization.   It really depends on how the organization embraces the new system (you get what you put into it).  Companies get results with ERP's do so because they put the work in to configure the software to align with how they do business (both in breadth and depth).   Part of this work involves examining/changing business processes to fit how the software works best.   It is worth noting that ERP is a continuous process - it has to be updated as your business evolves.

The biggest differentiator that determines how successful an organization is with ERP tends to be how an organization prepares for ERP - and it is also one of the most important factors in determining how much the project will ultimately cost.  If the company has a decent project manager, team members who are reasonably current in their fields (to be managed by the ERP), and the team members have some experience with ERP implementations, the results are often fantastic.   If the company goes into the project with the idea that the software is going to automagically solve all their problems, it usually does not go all that well.   The challenge is that it is very easy to fall into this trap - most companies I have worked with had varying degrees of unrealistic expectations.   


What is most valuable?

  • It's flexible enough to address most issues a discrete manufacturer would have.  
  • 360-degree reporting: If the data is in the system, there are many ways to report it.   Epicor has a number of different tools/modules for reporting.
  • The system can be highly modified without changes to the code - this means your changes survive upgrades.
  • The core ERP modules work well and have been tested by many customers.   
  • The company is constantly trying to improve the product and its offerings. There are a lot of modules and functionality available beyond the core.
  • The product configurator is a powerful tool.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see improvements in financial tools for international companies. DSPanel, an Epicor partner, created such a toolset (for Epicor), but Epicor never fully embraced it and did not produce a better solution. Many firms often end up getting a separate consolidation tool.

Epicor has never really figured out what they want to do with CRM. It is possible to build out a full-blown CRM solution with the CRM module, but I always found it better to use SFDC and connect it to Epicor. To be fair, what they have in CRM tends to work for most customers.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Epicor is very stable today.   The company has done a lot of work in recent years to substantially improve performance and the difference is noticeable.   

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Epicor scales very well.  It is a tier 2 solution, so you do not tend to see it in multi-billion dollar companies.   It is common to see it in firms ranging from $25M to $500M.  They do have a few accounts in the $1B space.   All that being said, it is not really the revenue that drives the choice.  It is the user count and what the users need the system for that often matters.   

The other factor is how well the ERP vendor matches with the firm in terms of its support.  Tier 1 providers such as SAP and Oracle have organizations built to work with companies that have a substantial number of personnel.   For example, there is an expectation that you have a DBA or two on staff in addition to other various specialists in your IT department and that these people will work with equivalents in their organizations.   Epicor can benefit from working with companies of this scale, but their organization is not built this way.   

How is customer service and technical support?

I have had extensive experience with Epicor's support.  Epicor's customer service and technical support do what they are supposed to, but most customers tend to mistake their technical support services for a substitute for consulting and this often drives comments suggesting the service is poor.   This is unfortunate because service takes it on the chin for things beyond their control.  That being said, I do think there is room for improvement.   Epicor's system for measuring the performance of their support organization is fundamentally flawed (it does not ask the type of questions that would encourage the organization to make the type of changes that would truly elevate the organization.   There is a clear bias in the questions to encourage the customer to provide positive feedback).  

You can submit a case online, but if you want an answer quickly, calling is your best option.  If you have an in scope issue that can be solved in a single call, it works pretty well.  In fact, you can often reach an Epicor rep fairly quickly most of the time after you make it through all the menu selections.   Where things can break down a bit is when the issue is more complex.   There does not appear to be a standard for case documentation and case management is not as customer oriented as it should be.   Epicor does follow their protocols, but their protocols sometimes result in cases being closed to quickly because they tend to assume if the customer is not available during the random times they call, it is closeable.   It works much better through email, but not all the techs use email for communications.   Customers can re-open cases and they have the option to escalate when their are not satisfied.   Taken all together, what you get is a middle of the road customer experience that will lead to the resolution of your in scope issue.

Customer service varies depending on who your customer account manager (CAM) is.   Epicor does not appear to have established a clear standard as to how their account managers should interact with their customers and consequently, your experience will vary.  Epicor does provide customers with access to many top management staff, so this provides some mitigation when needed.   It is worth noting that unless things are going awry, there is not much that a customer would need to interact with their CAM.  It is just that the better ones take an interest in your success and can provide some useful information to help.   In a lot cases, the primary interaction with CAMs occurs when the customer needs to acquire more licenses.  

Which solutions did we use previously?

The most common product switched from is either a Sage product or an older version of Epicor.   It is not unusual for companies to acquire Epicor as their first "real" ERP.   

The switch almost always comes about because management needs information to run the business and needs it on a timely basis.   For example, it is not uncommon for companies to report that it takes weeks to close books or that they are unable to determine profitability for a particular line of business.

How was the initial setup?

This will very depending on the experience of the people involved and how well prepared the company is for the project.    

What about the implementation team?

The experience will vary depending on the firms own preparedness and expectations.  Epicor and their top partners are all capable of routinely delivering good service, but they do not always get it perfect either.   Sometimes there is a question of fit between the consultant(s) and the firm.    

There are exceptions, but in-house self-installs do not have a good track record.   

Implementations are largely about knowledge transfer (consultant to client).   As they progress, the client should gain enough knowledge and confidence to drive the efforts.  

What was our ROI?

Varies by organization.   See my notes about preparation.     

Most companies tend to purchase Epicor when they have hit the wall with their current system so it is often more of a case of necessity.  

Part of that challenge with figuring out ROI for ERPs is that you have be able to measure where you are before implementing the ERP and many companies do not have that capability until they implement the ERP.   

I have seen companies triple their business using Epicor in just a few years.  Those were the ones that entered the project well prepared.   

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing/Pricing varies by the nature of deployment and is competitive.  Make sure you look at costs over at least a few years and negotiate accordingly.   If you buy direct from Epicor, pay attention to quarter/yearend sales cycle closes as they tend to offer the best deals then.  Epicor tends to offer the best deals with initial purchases.

Things that can impact pricing that you need to pay close attention to

-the number of users (and how much they will use the system)

-the number of sites/legal entities

-customizations (the kind that requires changing the code)

-the countries you do business in (Epicor has varying degrees of support for different places)  

Setup/implementation costs are mostly impacted by how prepared the company is going into the project.  If the firm does not have the right resources in place up front, costs tend to be high and are often quite a bit higher than estimates.    The vast majority of companies tend to over-estimate their capabilities-some by gigantic margins.  Self-installs tend to go poorly, but companies who have ERP team members who are very experienced with recent ERPs can do this effectively (this is probably not you).    

Epicor and its top partners usually do a good job estimating costs for getting the system live with the core modules.  If you plan to purchase a lot of advanced functionality or third party functionality, the implementation will take longer and cost more.

Pay very close attention to the methodology for implementation.   Make sure if matches up with what you are seeking.   As a customer, you are free to chose who you want to work with to install the software, but strongly consider either Epicor or an Epicor partner.   There are some awesome independents as well, but vet them before you hire.   

Have Epicor or an Epicor partner install the software if you go with an onpremise solution

Please note that it takes a team of consultants to set up an ERP these days.   The software is too big for one person to provide expert advice across all functions.   

Epicor consultants do 1 thing - they train your team on how to use the software.   They do not teach your people how to do their jobs.   They do not tell your company how to run its business.    This is not exclusive to Epicor and should not be taken as something to differentiate which software to acquire.    

There are rare exceptions, but in general, it is best to consider how the software will work for you out of the box before investing in customizations.   If you think going in that you are going to need to invest in a lot of customizations, consider hiring a top vendor neutral firm to select your ERP software.   

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Most companies tend to undergo some kind of selection process.   The vendors very, but it is not uncommon to see products from Infor (most typically Syteline), Syspro, MS Dynamics (Navision, AX, 365), NetSuite, Plex, Sage and any number of other tier 2 or 3 products.    Typically, at least one of the products mentioned is part of the shortlist.

What other advice do I have?

Epicor is an excellent ERP.  The software is very flexible, but always remember that just because you can do it, does not mean you should.   

There are a lot of different tools for reporting.   Understand what information you want to system to report upfront and use that to help you chose what you need.

Try to lock in pricing for the first couple of years.   It is really difficult for companies to determine everything they need upfront.   This is especially important if you intend to go live on the basics first and then expand to other functionality.  Epicor does not allow you to return software.

Do not forget to include in your budget any new employees you will need to hire to support your new ERP.   It is very common for companies to hire someone the write reports.  Many firms also hire business analysts and support personnel.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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